How Do You Discourage Strangers from Touching Your Child?

Updated on February 05, 2010
A.R. asks from Chicago, IL
9 answers

Hi Moms:

My son is a really friendly little boy and many times people just really like to come up and TOUCH him...his arms, his feet, his HANDS. These are complete strangers on the street, in an elevator and today the plebotomist at my doctor's office. I don't want to be standoffish but I don't, under any circumstances, think it is appropriate for strangers to touch him. What has worked for you to help dissuad complete strangers from touching your child?

****EDIT***** I just wanted to add that I am actually really friendly and more than happy to have anyone talk to my son, wave to him etc. I just feel that people don't reach out and touch other adults that they don't know, why shouldn't the same courtesy be extended to a baby? Additionally, I felt particularly vulnerable at the doctor's office yesterday because one person is taking my blood while the other person is touching my child. Plus, a doctor's office OMG the germiest place on Earth.

Thanks in advance,

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answers from Chicago on

Though I can understand your point of view especially when it comes to germs because so many don't wash their hands...but....

1.) He's 11 months old and he's cute. Are you afraid someone is going to snatch him?

2.) Studies show that kids that are too sheltered from germs and illness actually suffer more as an adult or when they start school because they have no immunity.

3.) If someone tried to pick up my child, I would have an issue...but a friendly little touch on the arm harmless. Keep some handsantizer wipes handy if they touch his hands and you are afraid of germs.

I really think it is pretty sad when people can't be friendly anymore. They are admiring your little one it is natural for humans to touch. If you don't want them to touch your little one, then don't stop to talk...make sure you keep your distance...or just say something like "he's been sick so much lately, please don't be offended, but I don't want anyone to touch him....

They can think what they want from that statement.

But maybe I'm just old fashioned and a little too country. I smile at people, talk to strangers, hold doors, compliment little ones and will on occasion if I know someone gently pet a little one on the back so as not to spread germs but offer a "kind hand of human contact" that says not everyone is a bad guy. How does that silly old song go "all we need is love". Not that I'm promoting any hippie attitudes...but a little innocent love isn't something to be alarmed about....but that's just me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Looking forward to your other responses. I've had strangers touch my son's face!



answers from Chicago on

I used to have the same issue with my daughter, because she has beautiful blonde hair, some people even came up and would slip her money-25 cents-$1. So what I have learned is that each situation is different-sometimes I would firmly take her hand and hold her slightly behind me-then I would smile and talk to the stranger without letting them cross my line of comfort. Personally, I think it is demeaning to get in a child's face and touch them or pat them or whatever-UNLESS you know them and you are on a "it's ok to touch my child basis," but everyone is different. Other times I've had to ask people not to touch her or if I was too late and the touches were occurring, I would swoop in and pick her up, smile at the person and say, "oh my, do we know you?" This kind of let them off the hook without being rude.

It is also a cultural thing too, at least according to my husband, it is not uncommon, or as taboo in other cultures to be really touchy feely with little ones, but that doesn't make your feelings any less valid.
We have a really loving and big church family and I have had to draw the line with some people there too, otherwise, I would've never held my own child =)

But most of all, never question your instincts as a mom, I've done that several times and regretted it tremendously. So just hold your ground-if they crouch down, you crouch down and keep them where you want them. Most other people understand if you as a parent don't appreciate them touching your child-even if they don't feel the same, they will respect your authority.



answers from Chicago on

Since your son is still little, it will be easy to pick him up (or wear him regularly) when around strangers. You can also put your body between his and the stranger's, too. Don't be worried about coming across rudely, think about it in terms of teaching your son to be wary of strangers. He is learning your cues and will apply them on his own later.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with Beverly, you need to position him in a way people can't reach him - like putting your body slightly between him and them. Maybe turn a stroller or shopping cart away from the stranger so "he can see them better", but you are in the way. Stand closer to him, don't be "open" to have someone else butt in.

I don't want this to sound like your son is a performing monkey, but I found it helpful if my kids wave, blow a kiss, etc. Something NON-PHYSICAL to say "hi" to a stranger.

Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

We have had a lot of experience with this. When we adopted our daughter at 11 months this was a constant issue. Our daughter was cute as heck---big dark eyes, cute smile, VERY friendly (too much so in fact-- she had no stranger anxiety at all). People always touched her (some even tried to pick her up)and it drove me crazy. I don't think you are being overly protective. We try to teach our children to be leery of strangers so why would Mommy stand by and let perfect strangers touch them? Kids at this age should developmentally have some stranger anxiety--what kind of a message are we sending if we allow people to touch our kids? My husband was surprisingly the man of reason--he told me to just tell people not to touch our kid. Yes, it was hard...but I just told people "Please don't touch my child or I'd prefer you not touch my daughter". Yes, some people were taken aback...but generally people said "Sorry, I should have asked or You're right..I'm a parent, what was I thinking." You might feel rude saying it at first but the person is a stranger---do you really care what they think? Will you see that person again? What is your responsibility-- your child or some stranger's feelings? You don't have to be rude when you ask someone not to touch your child, just be assertive. Good luck it's a hard thing to do.



answers from Tampa on they have signs that say "Wash Hands Before Touching Baby" it helps keep strangers from touching. They attach to strollers and car seats.



answers from Chicago on

I always carry my kids in a sling (not a baby bjorn but a regular sling or Ergo carrier). It is really helpful because they are so close to you that the stranger has to invade your personal space to get to the baby and that rarely happens.



answers from Chicago on

Maybe you could just carry some hand sanitizer with you. They are just trying to be friendly, and think your little one is so cute. I know it's hard to take it as a compliment, but that's how they mean it. The sling thing may work pretty well too.

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